Posted in Crossing Cultures, honesty, Mozambique, my heart, that's just life

Even When it’s Hard to Find Words

You know, it’s really hard to find words sometimes. No, I’m not just referring to our efforts to crack away at Portuguese fluency. I’m talking about crossing cultures back across the ocean.

It’s really hard to communicate how much I deeply treasure these beautifully flawed people. It’s really hard to live in the gap between two very different, but very encouraging worlds and find myself at a loss of relayed words.

What do our brothers and sisters of the United States want to say to our brothers and sisters here? Is He not the same God?  Are we not reading the same Word?

I find myself floundering in an unexplainable loss of words some days. What will I put on the blog? What will be heard back from here? What words will represent a world that so many may never see firsthand? How can I possibly capture the beauty of the world here without others only seeing the ashes? How can I possibly portray the realities here without others there thinking money and pity need to be given? How can my words encourage the depth I can barely express when language seems to slip like sand through my hands?

These are the thoughts that sometimes paralyze me as I think of what and how to share with you all. No, I don’t over-script my words or create situations that are not true to the realities here. But my heart just yearns to share a depth with you all there. My heart longs to connect my people on both sides of the ocean. You all are my world, disjointed as it may feel at times. And I am honored to wrestle with how to cross the ocean with heartfelt words. I am honored to let Jesus stand in the gap through our lives here.

Please know that I think of you often and hold you all so dear in my heart, even when I wrestle to find the words. Thank you for your joy in the pictures and the videos we spend hours and hours downloading through slow internet realities so that we can share life together. And thank you for your patience as things take more time here and as we learn that taking time is not always a deficiency, but many times an opportunity to really think through and treasure each investment.

The ocean between us is huge… and deep.

It’s easy to get lost out there amidst the waves.

Thank you for fighting the surf with us,

riding out this adventure

even when it’s hard to find words.

 

Posted in God's heart, JOY, life thoughts, my heart, willing hands

Refreshing

Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability!

How REFRESHING to know you don’t need me!

How AMAZING to find that you want me!

 

I am completely insufficient of a warrior in this battle. This battle is beyond me in immeasurable ways. The wisdom needed, the grace offered, the endurance, and so much more … I am completely insufficient! I am absolutely nothing on my own!

But the power of CHRIST in me makes me strong

This completely blows me away! How He does not need me. Not even in the slightest! He’s completely and entirely All-Sufficient!

And yet how utterly amazing to find that He still wants me.

I am completely humbled that He would choose to use me as His mouthpiece. ME?!! Oh how HE must be the One bringing the victory through these lips, through these hands…

And how He so willingly receives this offering that I lay at His glorious throne…

I am brought to tears at His utter grace.

How He takes the incapable, breathes the life in them, gives them the words and the boldness, orchestrates the listeners, touches the hearts, and then receives it gladly as an offering unto Himself.

It was all Him!

All Him all along!

Oh thank you, Lord, that You would bless me so to be a tool in Your hands.

How humbly amazing indeed!

 

 

 

Posted in Crossing Cultures, God's heart, honesty, Hope, Mozambique, my heart

But He Can

I can’t possibly put into words how things have changed since we’ve come here. Our roles right now are not what they will be come Maxixe, but we are here in Q… studying… still in transition and yet settled…. for a while at least.

I can’t possibly put into words what it’s like to send the very children you feel convicted to homeschool to a public school for a year. And a school in a different language and culture. I can’t put into words how I miss them in the house and how I miss knowing what they are learning. How I wish I could help Rachael on her homework, but it is beyond my Portuguese understanding.

I can’t possibly put into words the sacrifice of sitting upstairs for 5 hours of language and hearing your toddler downstairs calling you. It’s just a petty thing. She wants you to read her a book. But you can’t. I can’t describe what it is like to live on the fence, both dying to understand more in a language that still feels very unnatural and just wanting to hold your baby and absorb the little moments that used to surround you.

I can’t possibly put into words the feeling when you watch them building poor habits that you know you will need to spend months undoing. But their habits are acceptable in your host culture, just not in yours. So they’re not corrected. Some milestone regression will just need to be regression until you are there more consistently. Until things take on a new normal.

I can’t possibly put into words the frustration of returning to “school” and wondering if you’ll ever just “live normally”again. You know, just like go to the market and get food. Just do normal life stuff without feeling like it’s a language and culture test. Live in a place without fear of public speaking, when really there’s only just a handful of people in front of you, but the language barrier feels like a mountain before you.

I can’t possibly put into words the internal battle of studying so hard, but feeling like it’s never good enough and fighting that constant battle of comparison with your spouse who “just gets it”. Oh how the temptations can flair in the dark of the night and seem to swallow you whole.

But, precious friends and family, I can’t possibly put into words seeing another month under your belt, one step closer to your job city. I can’t possibly put into words how much of a blessing it is for your front tires to touch the pavement of the highway leading to your destination city. I can’t possibly explain the delight in seeing your children flourish, even if they’re not always running to your arms. I can’t explain the joy in hearing Portuguese church songs sung in echoing abandonment from a four-year old as she plays. I can’t put into words the delight of a small group of believers living in a Muslim community remembering and repeating with smiles on their faces the parables you all studied weeks ago. I can’t explain the triumph you feel when leaving the market after navigating the local market playing a little game of trying to beat your sweet house helper to the punch of asking about produce.

I can’t begin to express the gratitude of overcome tears and deep-heart prayers resulting in fruitful steps forward.

And it leads me to my knees again, praying for His perspective when mine feels challenged again. His patience when this road feels too long and costly. His calm when the uncertainties seem to surround.

Oh how the cost is high, how I long to return to being a homeschooling, ministry wife. But oh, dear beloved, how He proves Himself over and over to be MORE than enough.

Oh, precious friends and family, He IS so much more than enough.

Thanks be to God for using me as a tool in His hand in the midst of this 3 year transition from an American Associate Pastor’s wife to a bi-lingual Missionary Mom living in Africa.

His ways are prefect.

His timing is perfect.

How He refreshes my soul.

Posted in faith, God's heart, Hope, JOY, Mozambique, my heart

Immeasurably More

We sat at the table the other night and the girls brought up the topic of Heaven. It stemmed out of a conversation about the meaning of the word “paradise”. And after cleaning up some six year old confusion about Paris vs. Paradise, one of the girls mentioned Christ’s words to the broken sinner on the cross. “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” He said in response to the man’s belief.

Paradise.

“What will Heaven be like?” the questions arose with great curiosity.

“No one really knows beyond the Bible’s description of it being immeasurably more than anything good we could imagine.”

“No more tears,” Hannah piped in.

“Lots of food!” Came Abi’s response through her mouthful.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Can you imagine what it will be like for some people here?”

Rachael caught my eyes.

“They will go from a life of disease, surrounded by death, no electricity, no running water, fighting for hope amongst abandonment and challenge and desperation STRAIGHT to the banquet feast of our Lord.”

A tingle went through my body.

I saw the light on Rachael’s face as we both had very real pictures flash through our minds.

Suddenly, I thought about the homeless man out on the main street a half-block over. He never makes eye contact, is always surrounded by cardboard and trying to make fire. His loins barely covered by a shredded rag. I don’t know how long he’s lived there. I don’t even know how he’s still alive.

I thought about the sea of chronic medical problems people live with here, from huge goiters to elephant legs and open sores. I thought about the tiny, emaciated bodies that fill the public schools and the swollen preschool bellies and pencil-thin arms. I thought about the reading group girls who come in a capulana (thin, colorful yard of fabric) tied over a naked body underneath. This is all they own. That very well may be all they’ll ever own.

Can you even imagine, church?! Can you even imagine their faces when they’re given new robes? When those emaciated hands reach out in a new flesh for the banquet meal? Can you even imagine when the homeless man receives his house? Can you even imagine when the chronic ill step foot into Heaven and feel for the first time a land where those is no more death, no more disease and no more tears?!

Oh church, can you even imagine?!!!!!

Brother’s, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved…  For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? 

Romans 10:1, 13-15

May this truth permeate our very souls and open our eyes to His work laid before us. Oh the immeasurable value in all mankind that He would stoop down from the High places and rescue us into His arms.

Oh church, can you even imagine……

Posted in celebrating life, my heart, thankful and grateful

Not Forgotten

Sometimes I think how easy it can be to feel left behind. We go off on an adventure and all you get to see are pictures. But we don’t get to sit together in your living room anymore. Not for a very long time. We don’t get to exchange hugs and laugh as we tell stories over a shared meal. We don’t get to talk about the latest movies or news. We don’t get to share thoughts over the newest books we have read. We don’t get to laugh over things the girls said at church when they were running down the aisle to give you a hug. We don’t get to steal away after the kids go to bed to grab a cup of coffee and lose ourselves in conversations way late into the night. We don’t get to wear Spartans gear together and cheer on the victories (or desire for victories) in your living room.

We have left. And you stayed.

But I want you to know something that is very near and dear to my heart.

It’s you.

When I write my blog posts, I think of walking around my mom’s backyard with her, looking at the newest flowers blooming. Hanging out in the living room with my Dad, listening to his newest adventures and his newest thoughts on passages of the Bible. I think of sitting in the dining room with Barb and Rodger, playing another game of ticket to ride with Sarah, Ricky, William, Kourtney, Cousin Brittani and James.  I think about how we wait in anxious anticipation of Kat and Stephen visiting and I remember walking the streets of San Fransisco watching Hannah peak over your shoulder, Stephen. I think of standing outside in the yard with Ellen and Ron and the cousins, most of us are barefoot and laughing at the kids’ attempts at gymnastics and “soccer” or “football” in the yard. I think of sitting on the couch at Jes and Nayt’s house, laughing over the Lego movie as Nayt imitates that obnoxious song again and Eden begs for Aunt Jes to read another story with voices.

I think about standing in the kitchen with my best friend, Heather, and actually completing an entire conversation because my girls and Luke are so used to playing together that they’ve adopted him as their little brother. I think of taking a walk with Susan and Jade, talking about absolutely nothing because the girls keep interrupting to give Susan flowers, re-explain old stories and hold her hand. I think of playing at the park with Heather and Dilly, both Heather and I pushing the swings until our arms fall off but not minding in the least bit because being together gives us both an endurance we never thought possible.

I think about our Ms. Becky and how wonderfully dear she is to Matt and my hearts. How I loved “randomly” bumping into her while she was prayer walking at church. Hearing her fierce prayers for God’s people – Oh how our lives are ALWAYS ten times better because of our Ms. Becky and her beautiful heart.

I think about sitting on the floor in Darlene’s living room. Wes is in his chair covered in cats and Darlene is in her chair with the dogs at foot. And we could even steal a visit with Luanne too! And I am overcome by Darlene’s gentle heart, letting Rachael hold Allie as she marvels over God’s precious gift of the little baby.

I think of pool parties with the youth at Patty Thornell’s house and how we’d just sit on the patio together and share in life over a cup of soda and some pizza. My Jenney’s (Carrots) always prepared to be an encouragement, even though we both have missed spending as much time together as we have in the past.

I think about Dennis and Patti Stauffer with open arms at church, always ready to look past the girls’ crazier moments in light of their huge hugs and delight to see them. I think of Eden just desperately needing to hug Pastor Steve and Ms. Carla and how our Sunday morning wasn’t complete without saying hello to Sandy Vaugh and Lisa Walker at the piano. I think about Sara Fitch and how one of my favorite places to be at church was standing next to her in the praise team. Oh how sweet it is to break loose in worship of our Father over harmonies that ‘just happen’ by kindred spirits.

I think of Aunt Jes’ Housechurch (yes, that’s your official name now), oh my and sweet Ellie and Frannie, June, Suzie and Amanda, and how instantly at home we felt. How you wrapped your arms around us and still pray for us today. And how sweet Ellie still emails us asking about my girls and giving us the privilege of writing her back. And little Greta and Ethan just joining right along in the play.

I think about Ms. Betty and Ms. Patty in the nursery and how Hannah and Eden were always ready to run into their arms. Safety was found there.

I think about my Miranda Baker and my Amanda Parson and how even though schedules were hard to coordinate, spending time with them always felt like picking up where we left off. I always knew (and still do know) that at any point in time I can just pick up the phone (or the computer now) and call and they’ll always be there.

I think about Sarah Lockwood and Jenn and Dallas Russel and how Awanas was ALWAYS a blast enjoying some playful joking between kid session needs. Oh how fun it is to serve with family in the Body of Christ.

I think of Jess Herbst and how no matter how little I got to see her (it’s hard work seeing a Pastor’s wife) we could always just laugh and laugh about life. And how Brad and the “kids” (Can we even call them that anymore? Man, they’re HUGE) were always such a blast to see. Instant friends. Instant family. And then I get to thinking about Lifepoint church and how I loved to see Phil and Trish and Max and Dexter and so many ex- FBCM family. 😉

It think about Kassie Wysong and the kiddos and Papa Bear Jacob “doing voices” in the storybooks at night. And how the kids just rolled and were completely beside themselves, begging for just one more story.

I think about family reunions up with the Stauffer and Kelly clans and how much I looked forward to sharing in the food and fun together. From the organized games to the unplanned hang-out time when I got to hear about school happenings, church joys and new house building hopes.

I think about my FPO family: Jesse, Jenna, Angela, Elise and Jay, the B Team, Andrea, Troy and Alice, Rebecca, Chris, Maris, Cy, Peyton, Mrs. Carole, Brandi, Lara, Daniel, Emily and Alison, Joy and Jonathan, Taylor, our “North Africa and the Middle East”, “Europe”, “East Asia” and “South East Asia” friends … oh my goodness, the list could go on for days!!! And our appointment friends serving in hidden places. [I know many of you will not be able to comment or “like” this post for security reasons, but I know you will read it and feel our love.]

Friends and family, there are SO MANY of you to list that I’m sure I failed to include someone of you that I’ll soon be kicking myself over for not including. Oh like Theresa, Will and sweet baby Ellie. And then there’s Jackie and Lydia (sorry, you guys always come together in my mind). And Jill Turner and her precious faithfulness in friendship. And my dear Vicki Ralston! And Aunt Yvonne, Aunt Joanna, Aunt Gayle, Aunt Greer, Cuz Christi. And Kari, Josh, Shepherd and now sweet little Griffin Ortega! And, oh my, sweet Victoria Singerman who I can’t wait to see her on this side of the ocean!!!! And Cortney Tipton and her beautiful heart. And Lynn Parson – oh man, Lynn you are always a blast with your sense of humor.

Oh friends… there are just so, so many of you wonderful people that I cherish so!

Matt, the girls and I do not deserve such a HUGE cloud of wonderful people in our lives.

And I just want you to know that when I sit here across the ocean and create these blog posts,

When this blog post world seems so one-sided, I want you to know that you are on my mind. When I write “friends and family” I see your faces in my mind.

I went online and stole some of your more recent family pictures to put into my computer’s slideshow. And the girls and I love watching it (even my conversant and I have watched it together) and we LOVE talking about you. The stories we have shared still find their way into conversations at the dinner table here in Africa. Because you’re our people. And you are not forgotten.

I want you to know that I don’t write this to you because I am feeling forgotten. No, quite on the contrary. I write this to you out of a heart overflowing in gratitude because I am overcome in thankfulness at your love for Matt, the girls and I.

Please, don’t take our time-lapse between communications personally. We are fighting to share life with you. How we love to walk this road with you all even if we’re working with third-world internet and it’s hard to fit all of you into one schedule without never serving the people here too. 😉

But I just want you to know, precious family and friends, that we are honored to take adventurous steps through the support of your love.

So to our people in Ohio, Minnesota, California, Nevada, Virginia, Peru, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Senegal, Niger, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, “Europe”, “North Africa and the Middle East”, “East Asia”, “South East Asia”, and anywhere else our people are planning on moving in the near future: 😉

Thank you for being used of God.

Thank you for being our people.

Wow, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

– We love you all so, so, so much!